The Crisis Era: The Cost of Living, Stressful Strikes and the knock-on effect it has on Workplace Engagement.
It is no surprise to hear that in the current economic climate, and in today’s fast paced world, there are many external influences impacting our daily lives. These external influences can impact us all greatly, in many different ways personally, and professionally.
These external factors could be the extreme cost of living, high inflation and cost of food, or it could link to the frequent strikes that are affecting schools and trainlines- often due to the unsettled nature of colleagues. Additionally, it is also down to the fear in relation to war, from around the world. All of these external influences are more present than ever before and have a hugely negative effect on our ability as colleagues, employees and leaders to stay focused and engaged in our daily lives.
Concerns about the cost of living: The constant increases in everyday things like heating, food, water and living/ accommodation is a growing concern for employees and employers. With the price of essential goods soaring, people are struggling to find ways to make ends meet. This can have a knock-on effect with emotional and physical wellbeing, and would impact an individual’s ability to focus and engage in their every day work to their maximum potential. Furthermore, feelings of worry about meeting financial obligations can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, ultimately presenting occasions where they may be less focused, unmotivated and disengaged.
School and teacher strikes, and Transport and Rail strikes: For an essential service, such as teaching, schools, and the transport and rail industry, any disruption that occurs affects massively on our daily routines. During school strikes, the students’ learning suffers and their ability to focus on their schoolwork diminishes. It also creates an irregular pattern to their routine which can be a struggle to pick up again, as well as affecting anyone linked to the student, such as parents/ grandparents or carers, as they may additionally have to have more time off their own work.
For the transport and rail industry, commuting challenges are presented leading to increased stress, and reduced productivity at work. Whilst some of us are able to pick up naturally at home, for many others, home working isn’t an option resulting in an increased risk of stress and anxiety for those who deeply rely on these rail services. It isn’t just commuters that these strikes affect though, for the employee who is striking, their reasons for striking in the first place are often down to feeling unappreciated, and not valued. Our transport and rail guide demonstrates the feelings of transport and rail workers. We know that people within this industry feels like “no one cares about the employees, we’re understaffed, overworked and not appreciated for what we do”. As well as this, they also feel, like “the company doesn’t value its employees, unfortunately as a result, the employees don’t value the company…”
It can also hugely impact the health industry and essential workers like doctors and nurses. Employees in this industry are overworked, have higher levels of pressure, as well as competing against time restraints, as well as feeling negative emotions linked to financial pressure.
Fear of war from Ukraine or other countries – Fear from war can be linked to multiple anxieties from job stability, risk taking, mental wellbeing, connecting with friends and family, and varied responses from different diversities.
For those who are particularly concerned about the war situation in Russia and Ukraine, are likely to prioritise their job security un the UK. This means that they might leave their current workplace for somewhere with higher job security, or head somewhere that is less likely to be impacted by any repercussions from the conflict. Likewise, this could also go the other way, some employers may find their employees engagement and commitment increases, as they perceive their current job to be a lot more secure than if they were to go elsewhere.
This could also link to risk taking. Due to uncertainty and caution going hand in hand with the fear of war, some people may become withdrawn, and in turn avoid taking risks such as searching for a new job or pursuing new career opportunities.
Impact on mental wellbeing, friends or family- In some cases, engagement and motivation within a job can be affected especially if the employee is sick with worry about their loved ones in the war affected country. This can massively dampen their wellbeing as they will experience a lot more anxiety, and stress off the back of worrying of their loved ones whereabouts, which ultimately can put pressure on their work life, engagement and productivity.
Industry specific impacts: Certain industries may be affected from the crisis of war, especially if the conflict disrupts supply chains, the economy, international relations, trade or manufacturing. Engagement at work in these industries may therefore decline.
Diverse responses: Everyone reacts differently to different situations. Some individuals will be more motivated and want to contribute more in their jobs whereas for some it will have the opposite reaction, and experience higher levels of distress and struggle to maintain job engagement. If you are a leader, and you are wanting to find ways to understand your employees more, take a look at our diversity and Inclusion guide for ways you can understand different diversities and ways of working and living.
How to cope
External influences for the majority of situations are out of our control, but it is important to realise that you are able to look at different strategies and coping mechanisms to help alleviate the stress that crisis can having on us all.
The following things can help:
- Financial Management – Booking an appointment with a financial advisor can help you if you’re struggling to organise your finances. Having a mind clear of worry off the back of debt stress, can improve wellbeing and engagement.
- Seeking support when needed from work, family or friends.
- Exploring alternative transport options in case of strikes – can you walk, drive or cycle to work, or arrange for a friend or colleague to offer a lift whenever there is a strike set to happen?
- Flexible schedules- Speak to your employer to find out if there is flexibility in your hours. Working flexibly is known to have so many positive affects on work life balance and wellbeing.
We have a wide range of guides from various industries which are all free to download. For the transport and rail industry, and concerns off the back of strikes, check out our transport and rail guide. We also have guides from the construction and manufacturing industry, which goes into mental health, and guides for offline workers, higher education and improving retention and engagement.